Prabhamandala sells for £10K at Mallams’ 8 November Asian & Islamic Art Sale

Prabhamandala sells for £10K at Mallams’ 8 November Asian & Islamic Art Sale



A Nepalese or Tibetan Prabhamandala (lot 294) dating from the 16th or 17th century sold for £10,000 in Mallams’ 8 November Asian & Islamic Art Sale, held at the Cheltenham saleroom.

Often placed behind a statue to indicate its status, this Prabhamandala was made from a mercury gilded copper alloy with red painted sections. It featured characteristic repousse sacred symbols, including Naga and Makara figures, some standing on elephant-type beasts, within a surround of smaller buddhas and birds, and stood 69cm high. A similar, smaller example can be seen in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Robin Fisher, Mallams’ Director and Head of Eastern, Oriental Art and Ceramics said “We are particularly pleased with the result for the Prabhamandala as the Oxford based vendor had no idea what it was, and with additional research and marketing from us, we were able to unlock its true potential.”

Also performing well was a 19th century Chinese Famille Verte vase (lot 77) painted in enamels and featuring butterflies and flowers. Coming to Mallams from the estate of a family of private collectors, it sold for £5200, considerably higher than its £100-£200 estimate.

Featured in the sale were a number of items from Isaac Day, an engineering lecturer at the University of Hong Kong circa 1918-1938, coming to Mallams, by inheritance, from Day’s grand-daughter. These items included several photo albums which gave a wonderful insight into the life, buildings and culture of the time, as well as two very rare, sectionalised maps of Hong Kong (lot 432), which was of particular interest to bidders. Both maps were published by the War Office, the first in August 1905, and the second in Feb 1913 with the latter printed the same year at the Ordnance Survey Office in Southampton. A bidding war saw this lot soar well above its conservative £100-£200 estimate, with the hammer finally falling at £4800.

Lot 81 was a large, polychrome porcelain moon flask, with blue and gilt dragon handles, guided at £2000-£3000. Dating from 19th century China and coming to Mallams from a private Oxfordshire vendor, it proved popular with bidders and sold for £4600.

An impressive selection of snuff bottles was featured in the sale, including items from three private collections.  First made in 18th century China for the Emperor and court to hold imported tobacco, snuff bottles were eventually more widely produced for the general public. Lot 226A was a group of eight 19th/20th century porcelain snuff bottles estimated at £200-£300. This drew keen interest from a number of parties and was eventually hammered at £3200.

Sold at £2800 was a pair of Chinese, white, snow scene plates in the manner of He Xuren (1882-1940) and guided at £200-£300 (lot 67). These Republic period plates were painted with mountainous landscapes and pavilions and bore a blue kaishu Qianlong mark.

Robin Fisher said “We are very pleased with the overall result of the sale. We had very busy viewings and considerable interest from both telephone and commission bidders.”

Mallams is now accepting entries for its May 2024 Asian Art Sale. If you would like an informal valuation please contact Robin Fisher at or call the Cheltenham saleroom on 01242 235712.

All prices are subject to a 30% buyers' premium (VAT inclusive). 

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